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Thread: Three Fort Hood soldiers charged in human smuggling (update)

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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Three Fort Hood soldiers charged in human smuggling (update)

    Three Fort Hood soldiers charged in human smuggling

    Photo courtesy of Cameron County Jail
    Pvt. Eric Rodriguez

    Pvt. Eric Rodriguez, 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, is charged with "smuggling aliens," by the U.S. District Court, Southern District.

    Posted: Thursday, October 9, 2014 2:58 pm
    Rose L Thayer | Herald staff writer

    BROWNSVILLE — Three Fort Hood soldiers were arrested in an ongoing investigation related to the transporting and harboring of illegal immigrants, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Special Agent in Charge Janice Ayala of Homeland Security Investigations in San Antonio.

    The indictment charges Fort Hood soldiers Eric Alexander Rodriguez, 20, Brandon Troy Robbins, 20, and Christopher David Wix, 21, as well as a civilian, Arnoldo Gracia, 45, an alleged immigrant smuggler from the Harlingen area. All three soldiers are privates with 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

    The seven-count indictment was returned Tuesday and fully unsealed Thursday upon the arrests of Rodriguez, Robbins and Wix at Fort Hood. Gracia was arrested Wednesday in Harlingen. He made his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ignacio Torteya and was ordered to remain in custody pending a hearing Oct. 14. The remaining defendants are expected to make an initial appearance Friday in Waco before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey C. Manske. The indictment alleges one count of conspiracy to transport and harbor aliens, and six counts of transporting aliens.

    Rodriguez, of Odem, was arrested Sept. 11, after allegedly trying to smuggle two Mexican nationals past the immigration checkpoint in Sarita. He made an initial appearance Sept. 17, at which time a Homeland Security Investigations agent testified that Rodriguez had arrived at the checkpoint driving a Chevrolet truck dressed in his military uniform. When agents searched the rear seat area of the truck, two undocumented people were allegedly found hidden under a bed sheet and military jacket which displayed the name tag of Rodriguez.

    The indictment also adds charges in two earlier incidents.

    Robbins, of Harlingen, is charged with transporting two people April 13. Wix, of Opelika, Ala., is charged with transporting two people June 21. Gracia is alleged to be a member of the smuggling conspiracy and charged with aiding and abetting the three soldiers in commission of the offenses.

    If convicted, each faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.

    The agency investigated with the assistance of Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. Assistant U.S. Attorney Oscar Ponce is prosecuting the case.

    “(Homeland Security Investigations) is dedicated to working closely with its law enforcement partners in all arenas in pursuit of identifying, arresting and prosecuting individuals involved in human smuggling, regardless of their position.” Ayala said. “Today’s arrests exemplify the high level of collaboration between (the agency) and its partners in investigating these cases.”

    Last edited by Jean; 05-07-2016 at 05:39 PM.

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  2. #2
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    Prison Time for U.S. Soldiers Smuggling Aliens While in Uniform

    7 May 2016

    BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Two former U.S. Army soldiers based out of Fort Hood have been sent to prison for their role in a human smuggling operation where they had been using their uniform to get around immigration checkpoints.

    Last week, former soldiers Eric Rodriguez and Brandon Robbins along with convicted human smuggler Arnoldo Garcia, went before a U.S. District Judge in this border city for their sentencing hearing, court information that Breitbart Texas had access to revealed. During the hearing, the judge sentenced Rodriguez to 14 months in prison and 12 months of supervised release, while Robbins received 20 months in prison and two years of supervised release. Garcia, the human smuggler who is believed to have played a leadership role in the scheme received more than seven years in prison and three years of supervised release. In federal court, supervised release is a form of probation where the criminal must wear monitoring devices and be subjected to regular checkins and random screenings.

    As previously reported by Breitbart Texas, the case against the soldiers began in 2014 when U.S. Homeland Security Investigations started to unravel an large smuggling operation using U.S. Military personnel. On September 2014, HSI agents arrested Rodriguez at the Sarita checkpoint about 70 miles north of the Texas border when he drove a vehicle with two illegal aliens hiding under military clothing spread in the vehicle. At the time of the arrest Rodriguez was in his military uniform. During questioning by HSI agents, he admitted to having driven through the checkpoint at least two other times. In October 2014 Robbins and 21-year-old Christopher Wix. All three soldiers pleaded guilty by August 2015, which is when authorities arrested 25-year-old Yashira Marie Perez, a fourth soldier tied to the smuggling operation. Wix was sentenced in 2015 to a 12 month prison sentence. Perez pleaded guilty in August 2015 and is awaiting her sentencing hearing.
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  3. #3
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    What's next? Will we catch them trying to do the same thing using military transportation?
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